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  xFriday, October 11, 2002

ball of confusion


Here are a couple of great columns on the confusion generated by the Administration's Rationale of the Day™ approach to selling the war on Iraq--a war it obviously wants badly but has badly failed to make a compelling case about.

Michael Kinsley writes in today's WaPo:
"Iraq could decide on any given day" to give biological or chemical weapons to terrorists for use against the United States, Bush said Monday night. The wording is cleverly designed to imply more than it actually says. It doesn't say an Iraq-sponsored biological attack could actually happen tomorrow. But the only purpose of the phrase "on any given day" is to suggest that it might.

So the question then arises: If Saddam Hussein has the desire and ability to attack the United States with chemical and biological weapons, either directly or using surrogates, why hasn't he done so? Possibly because he fears reprisal.

...The Bush campaign for war against Iraq has been insulting to American citizens, not just because it has been dishonest but because it has been unserious. A lie is insulting; an obvious lie is doubly insulting. Arguments that stumble into each other like drunks are not serious. Washington is abuzz with the "real reason" this or that subgroup of the administration wants this war.

A serious and respectful effort to rally the citizenry would offer the real reasons, would base the conclusion on the evidence rather than vice versa, would admit to the ambiguities and uncertainties, would be frank about the potential cost. A serious effort to take the nation into war would not hesitate to interrupt people while they're watching a sitcom.


And via Counterspin Central, this opinion by sportswriter Mitch Albom:
One side says in three months Hussein could have a nuclear bomb ready to use against us.

The other side says Hussein is five to 10 years away -- and only if he gets help.

One side says Saddam and Al Qaeda are buddy-buddy terrorists, united by a thirst for American blood.

The other side says Saddam and Al Qaeda have long been enemies and would like nothing better than to see the other destroyed.

One side says Saddam will share his weapons with Osama bin Laden.

The other side says: "Come on. Why arm a man who might use those arms against you?"

One side says Saddam has chemical and biological weapons.

The other side says the best way to ensure he uses them is to attack him.

...One side says a Sept. 11 hijacker had some kind of Iraqi connection, reason enough to take out the regime.

The other side says 15 of those hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and we're not threatening to blow that country to pieces.

...One side says: "Come on. We can easily find and kill Saddam Hussein."

The other side says, "We haven't found Osama bin Laden yet."

...One side says it would never politicize the war, that the stakes are too high for that.

The other side waves a memo from the president's top political adviser that says, "Stress the war."

...One side says U.S. law prohibits the assassination of any foreign leader.

The other side says assassination "costs a lot less" than a war -- wink, wink.

...One side says, "He who hesitates is lost."

The other side says, "Fools rush in."

You want to know why the average American is confused about Iraq?

Ask our leaders. On both sides.